Net Worth: $80 Million
- Source of Wealth Restaurant
- Birth Place Tokyo, Japan
- Marital Status Married
- Full Name Hiroaki Aoki
- Nationality United States
- Date of Birth October 9, 1938
- Ethnicity Japanese
- Occupation Founder of Japanese Steakhouse
- Education Keio University, Springfield College and CW Post College
- Children seven children
About Rocky Aoki
Japanese-American wrestler and entrepreneur Rocky Aoki has an estimated net worth of $80 million. He is also the founder of the Benihana chain of “Japanese Steakhouse” restaurants, entrepreneur and thrill seeker.
Hiroaki Aoki was born on October 9, 1938 in Tokyo, Japan. His first venture was when he joined the rock and roll band called Rowdy Sounds along with some of his friends. However, he eventually left music for athletics. He went to Keio University where he competed in track and field, karate and wrestling. However, he was expelled due to fighting. He qualified for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome but did not compete. He later toured the United States and was undefeated in the 112-pound flyweight class in wrestling.
Rocky Aoki was offered with wrestling scholarships from various American Colleges. He went to Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts but transferred later to CW Post College on Long Islands. When he moved to New York City, he won the United States flyweight title in three consecutive years – 1962, 1963 and 1964. In 1995, he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
In May 1964, Mr. Aoki launched the first American Benihana restaurant which featured teppanyaki-style Japanese cooking. For the first six month, the Benihana business was very slow. However, an enthusiastic review in the New York Herald Tribune brought enthusiastic customers to his restaurant. Due to its growing popularity, it became a fashionable eatery with regular customers such as Sean Connery, Lawrence Welk and Burk Bacharach.
On May 15, 1966, Rocky opened the second Benihana on Manhattan’s East Side. It later opened its branch in Chicago in 1968 and in San Francisco (its first at West Coast) in 1969. Its popularity increased rapidly in the 1970’s and 1980’s. This led to the creation of the publicly-traded Benihana-Benihana, Inc. in 1987.
Rocky Aoki is also an offshore powerboat racer along with the 1986 APBA world champion Powerboat throttleman Errol Lanier. Mr. Lanier is a former Fort Lauderdale, Florida fireman who saved Aoki’s life in a near fatal powerboat crash in 1979 under the Golden Gate Bridge.